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Sonya Shannon

SCPS Lecturer

headshot of Sonya Shannon, smiling
Sonya Shannon Official Website
Sonya Shannon Custom Portraits
Sonya Shannon's Transformation Oracle
Sonya Shannon Etsy Store

Sonya Shannon is an artist, author, and educator. She began her career in digital special effects for film and TV, and is considered a pioneer in digital art and animation.

Sonya studied under teachers from Walt Disney Studios, Zagreb Film, and the National Film Board of Canada. Her storyboarding teacher, Zack Schwartz of Disney’s Fantasia (“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”), instilled in her a passion for sequential imaging. Highlights of her career as a 2-D and 3-D Creative Director and Animator include some of the first CG spots on major television networks such as CBS, NBC, ABC, ESPN, HBO, ShowTime, and Univision. She was the first 3DCG Creative Director at Broadway Video (home of SNL), where her designs appeared on the Times Square Jumbotron, at the Disney/MGM Theme Park, and in feature films. Sonya crafted special effects for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, helped raise the Nielsen ratings four points for KMEX 34 Los Angeles, and animated Les Beaux Dimanches opening, the longest-running variety show opening in Canadian television. Her interactive version of Josef Albers’ Interaction of Color opened at the Guggenheim, NYC.

Because of her pioneering work, Sonya was instrumental in designing the first computer animation degree programs at two of the leading art colleges in New York City: Pratt (BA/MFA Computer Graphics) and School of Visual Arts (SVA). As SVA Faculty Advisor for the MFA Computer Animation program, her protégés include 2003 Oscar® Nominee Carlos Saldanha (Ice Age & Ferdinand • Blue Sky Studios), Patricia Hannaway (animator of “Gollum” in LOTR: The Two Towers • WETA Digital, and “Donkey” and “Princess” in Shrek • Dreamworks SKG), Nancy Kato (Babe • Rhythm & Hues) and Virginia Santos (Toy Story and A Bug’s Life • Pixar), among others. She served as a Board Member for New York ACM SIGGRAPH and Animation Curator for the New York Digital Salon. Sonya authored articles, lectured, and taught digital art workshops internationally, and was keynote speaker for the LG Media Special Effects Conference in Seoul. In the late ‘90s, she designed a video game using AI, smart agents, and speech recognition with pre-rendered 3D characters. Today, she creates custom portraits and fine art, and teaches with a passion.

Diploma, 1983, Classical Animation, Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning

“The Chrome Age: Dawn of Virtual Reality,” 1995. Third Annual Digital Salon Catalog • Leonardo (The MIT Press), Volume 28, Number 5, pp. 369-380

“Transformation Oracle,” Divination Card Deck and Book, 2018. REDFeather (Schiffer Publishing) ISBN 978-0-7643-5592-9

“The Line and the Pixel,” Curator’s Statement,1997. Fifth Annual Digital Salon Catalog • Leonardo (The MIT Press), Volume 30, Number 5, pp. 434-436

“Ode to Computer Animation,” Curator’s Statement, 1996. Fourth Annual Digital Salon Catalog • Leonardo (The MIT Press), Volume 29, Number 5, pp. 441